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Emergency Contraception

emergency contraceptives, family planning, reproductive health

At A Glance:

  • Contraceptive pills or copper IUDs can both be used as emergency contraception after unprotected sex to decrease the chances of pregnancy.
  • Should only be used after unprotected sex, if another contraceptive method failed, or if no contraception was used.
  • Can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. Pills can be up to 88% effective if taken within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex. The sooner, the better.
  • The Yuzpe Method is not guaranteed as effective as daily intake of pills as a regular contraceptive method.
  • Copper IUDs are 99.9% effective if inserted within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex.

What Is It

Emergency contraception lessens the chances of a woman getting pregnant if taken within the first few days after unprotected sex. It should be taken as a last resort when other contraceptive methods failed or were not used during unplanned sex.

You may want to use it if:

  • you weren’t using any contraceptive when you had sex
  • you forgot to take your pills or use condoms
  • your partner’s condom broke or slipped off
  • your partner didn’t pull out in time or
  • you were forced to have unprotected vaginal sex

Emergency contraceptive pills are also called “morning after pills,” which gives the wrong impression that they should be taken the morning after unprotected sex, when in fact, they can already be taken as soon as possible without having to wait for the morning after.

In the Philippines, the daily oral contraceptive pills available can be used as emergency contraception through a specific method. The Yuzpe Method prevents pregnancy before it happens; it’s a backup plan, and should not be done regularly. If you are interested in taking oral contraceptive pills as a regular method of contraception, consult your healthcare provider to know more. It is also strongly advised to consult a healthcare provider when using the Yuzpe Method.

Copper IUDs are available in the Philippines, and can also be used as emergency contraception in case of unprotected sex. If inserted by a healthcare provider within 120 hours (five days) after the incident, it is up to 99.9% effective—even on the fifth day— and can be left for up to ten years if you have decided to use it as an ongoing contraceptive method. This makes the copper IUD the most effective emergency contraception. Although the initial cost is quite a bit more expensive, it’s highly effective for years. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to know more about getting an IUD.

How It Works

Pregnancy doesn’t happen immediately after sex, which is why preventing it after unprotected sex is still possible. Take note: it can take up to seven days for the sperm cell and egg cell to meet after sex.

Pills prevent the sperm cell and egg cell from meeting and result in pregnancy by releasing a large dosage of the hormones estrogen and progestin in the body. Through this, the egg cell is stopped or delayed from leaving the ovary and traveling to the uterus for fertilization.

The Yuzpe Method lessens the chances of pregnancy to happen if taken within the first few days after unprotected sex; however, how much the chances are reduced depends on how soon the pills are taken after the incident, and at what stage the woman’s menstrual cycle is already when she takes it. The chances of getting pregnant are higher when the woman had unprotected sex during the 2nd or 3rd week of her menstrual cycle; this makes the effectiveness rate not absolute. It’s always better to use a regular form of contraception, such as a condom or the daily oral contraceptive pills.

Copper IUDs work as an emergency contraceptive because they affect how sperm cells move, and thus preventing them from meeting an egg cell up to five days after unprotected sex. In case the egg cell was fertilized by a sperm cell, the copper IUD also prevents the fertilized egg cell from implanting itself in the uterine lining, which prevents pregnancy once again.

How To Use It

Do the Yuzpe Method as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Although it can reduce the risk of pregnancy if used within 72 hours after the incident, taking it sooner makes it more effective.

Take four (4) Ethinyl Estradiol 30mcg/Levonorgestrel 150mcg pills as soon as possible. Follow this with another dose of four (4) pills 12 hours later. You should be able to take a total of eight (8) pills.

If vomiting occurs within 2 hours after taking either of the doses, you need to repeat that dose. Remember, the sooner the pills are taken, the better.

It’s normal for your next period to be different from normal after taking emergency contraception.

  • It may come earlier or later than usual
  • It may be heavier, lighter, more spotty, the same as usual

You may also feel dizzy and nauseous after taking the pills.

If you have a copper IUD inserted within five days of unprotected sex, it can lower the chances of pregnancy by 99.9%. To undergo the procedure, you’ll have to make an appointment with a healthcare provider.

The Positives

  • Pregnancy can be prevented after unprotected, unplanned or unsolicited sex.
  • Offers more protection and peace of mind than doing nothing.
  • Easy to use.
  • Copper IUDs are 99.9% effective and can be used for up to ten years.

The Negatives

Pills

  • Can cause an upset stomach and vomiting.
  • Could cause breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, dizziness, headaches (short-term), and temporary changes to the menstrual cycle.
  • The Yuzpe Method should be done.

Copper IUD

  • May cause cramping after insertion
  • Might lead to heavier or longer periods
  • Need to make an appointment with doctor for insertion

Sources:

Department of Health. The Philippine Clinical Standards Manual on Family Planning (2014 Edition). Manila, Philippines: DOH. 2014. Pp231-239

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/emergency-contraception

https://www.familyplanning.org.nz/clinics/services/emergency-contraception-copper-iud

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196 thoughts on “Emergency Contraception

  1. hi! i have abdominal pain and white discharge 3 days before my period. i never had widthdrawal bleeding. is this mean im pregnant? my period is on july 5

    1. Hi Kaja! White discharge is normal for all women, pregnant or not. Withdrawal bleeding is just a possible side effect. Not all women will surely experience it after the Yuzpe Method. As said in this article, the Yuzpe Method may cause changes in your next menstrual cycle, such as delayed menstruation for a week or two. Please refer to this article for more information.

  2. hi! i did the yupze method properly around 3 weeks ago and now am experiencing clear jelly discharge the day before i am supposed to have my period. I did not experience any PMS symptoms these past few days. are these pregnancy signs and a cause for concern?

    1. Hi Bea! Clear jelly discharge is normal for all women, pregnant or not. It typically means that you’re ovulating. As said in this article, the Yuzpe Method may cause changes in your next menstrual cycle, such as delayed menstruation for a week or two. Please refer to this article for more information.

  3. Nag take na po ako ng 4 kahapon tapos after 12 hrs nag take po ako ulit ng 4 pills kaninang 8am. Mag tatake pa po ba ako ulit in the next day? Thank you

    1. Hi Marianne! Gaya nga po ng nakasaad sa artikulong ito, dalawang dosis lang ng tig-apat na pills ang kailangan mong inumin. Kung nabuo mo na po ito, hindi mo na kailangan uminom muli ng pangatlong dosis.

  4. Hi. we had unprotected/withdrawal method intercourse last June 2 (3 days after my last period) and i took the first 4 trust pills 24hrs after intercourse, however after 12hrs when i was supposed to take the another 4 pills i got nausea and I vomited. So I took the 2nd dose 24hrs after in the morning. 7 days after taking the pills, i had spotting on my predicted day of ovulation. I spotted for 4 days. Now in my menstrual cycle app calendar i am already 3 days late for my expected period. What could be the cause of my late period? and when should i take a PT?

    1. Hi Hannah! As stated in this article, the Yuzpe Method may cause changes in your menstrual cycle, such as delayed menstruation. It may be delayed for up to a week or two weeks. You may take a pregnancy test if you still did not have your period two weeks after the usual date you get it. Please take note that since you waited for 24 hrs to take the 2nd dose, the Yuzpe Method may not have totally protected you, and its effectivity may have further decreased due to the gap in between doses.

  5. My partner did the yuzpe method using trust pills today, 9am and she will take 4pills again later 9pm. After that I have a question, will she continue taking the left pills or dispose it already? Also she is taking ferrous sulphate + folic acid everyday. Is she allowed or is it okay to take it when she had done the yuzpe method?

    1. Hi RJ! After doing the two doses for the Yuzpe Method, she can discard the pills if she has no plans of taking oral contraceptive pills regularly. She may continue taking her ferrous sulphate + folic acid.

  6. Hi! We had an unprotected sex and he pulled it out and ejaculated outside. But we’re scared because he pre-cum so much and it might have some semen with it. We can’t find any Plan B or morning-after pill in our area so we bought the Trust Pill. Is it safe to use the Yuzpe Method with Trust Pill as an emergency contraceptive? It will be her first time taking this pill.

    1. Hi Jake! Yes, you may use Trust Pills for the Yuzpe Method. Take 4 pills immediately, then another 4 pills after 12 hours. Please refer to this article for more information and for the complete instructions.

  7. hi! is it normal to have white/ clear-ish discharge a week before my supposed period or does that mean that I am pregnant? I thought that my period is supposed to come a week late but I am experiencing discharge now

    1. Hi Anne! White/clear discharge is normal for all women, even those who did not have sex or those who are not pregnant. If you read this article, you will see that the Yuzpe Method CAN delay menstruation, which means that it may happen to some but not all, and it does not definitely mean that you will experience delay. Some may have their period on time, and maybe you are one of those girls. It really depends on your body and your menstrual cycle.

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